Hey it's me! I know this took for ever, sorry about that. But I guess I have good news: I decided to r&r the entire story!tada! I know: I'm the most inconsistent reviewer ever :P
Alright, I might never make it to the end if I stop to review every chapter, so I hope you don't mind very much if I merge the reviews for ch2 and ch3.
You might recall that I had issues with your Snape at first. He is very AU, but consistently so, which means I have to put aside my cannon-nazi hammer of judgement and deal with it:p
I have come to like him, in fact, but more as an OC than as Snape. So I chose to relax and enjoy the story, refraining from any connon-related comments. If you DO desire for me to take a look at how your story fits into cannon, then tell me and I'll take that hammer of judgement off the shelf and get right to it.
But for now, I feel that you have successfully created an HP-inspired world for your story which feels unique and alive in its own way. Many stories on this site try to venture out of Hogwarts and into the big bad wizarding world. It's not an easy task, considering how the books don't actually give us much to go by. Sure, there is Diagon Alley and the Ministry among a few other disconnected locations. But this is hardly enough to picture what the wizarding city-life looks like.
I have read many stories where the writers are quick to place the wizarding world into a replica of the sparkly-clean Hollywood big-city feel with large office buildings, cocktail-bars and what-not. Sometimes they get so carried away, they even forget about magic.
To cut a long story short: What attracted me to this story was the way you managed to keep the grimy, secretive feeling of HP while adding the atmosphere of a big city. (And there is magic! lots of it!) London is still London, but there is an underground life with wizards and odd potions, conspiracies, etc. This is always how imagined it, and you did a wonderful job setting the scene.
Although you didn't describe very much, you managed to bring vivid images to life. The bar, the Ministry, Snape's lab,his place...all of the locations worked towards creating a specific atmosphere of adventure and mystery. Everything is gritty, chaotic and full of activity. Such a feeling in itself can establish a sense of foreboding. The world you have created assures the reader that everything and everyone is on the move. And something big is bound to happen, soon ;)
But, as always, I have come up with a couple of comments about possible improvement.
Although I am a girl like any other and I like me a good ship, I need it to seem natural. Which is why I would like to offer you some of my impressions of Dorcas and Snape's coversation at the bar. From how the situation was set up, their meeting was a risky and an emotionally stressful endeavour. Snape had recently discovered the death of his mother,which entailed a betrayal and a threat. Dorcas, on the other hand, is living a dangerous double life as an active member of a secret organization. She might be experienced in making people disappear, but how could she not be nervous? In their conversation, the highest stakes seemed to be neither of the two giving away their emotions. That's the definition of flirting, not a secret spy-meeting...If you wish to bring in their interest in eachother that goes beyond a mutual mission to defeat the Dark Lord, then there are more subtle ways to do it than the two discussing Dorcas' ex or Snape musing about their days at Hogwarts. I'm not sure I'm making sense, but, to summarize, there was simply too much trust and emotional connection for a first meeting. If I were you, I'd focus their conversation more on Dorcas' shock at Snape being a Death Eater and make him more distant (you can still drop signs of him observing her). The way he pulled at his sleeve to indicate that he had The Mark was a very strong moment, I think the scene would benefit greatly from a focus on that topic instead of Dorcas' love-life.
In chapter 3, there was another shipping moment when Snape whisked Dorcas off to the forest. All in all, it was a nice scene and it involved magic (I can't stress enough how much I like magic XD), but Dorcas' emotions were all over the place,and not necessarily in a good way. "Not that she read anything selfless or noble into it," struck me as as out of place in the context. So, wait, she *doesn't* like him? Considering how many heart-to-heart moments they have already had, it seemed forced to have her suddenly experience some sort of mistrust/denail moment. What I'm trying to say here is that their inter-actions have been a bit messy and I am missing a stable emotional frame of reference for Dorcas. Snape's pov's have been solid. He is busy with his potion of doom for the Death Eaters and is experiencing an existential crisis, where Dorcas plays a blast from the past kind of role of reminding him of his innocence in Hogwarts( correct?). But Dorcas...I can't say what she is feeling,what her motivations or goals are, or anything else. So far, Snape has been the active one, although she is the Order of the Phoenix member, not him. And although you let her challenge Snape intellectually during their potion-talks, I'm jsut not convinced...
One other thing I noticed was that you really like getting technical. I admire that you are trying to give some logic to the way potions work in oder to make the story seem more likely, but I feel that you over-do it sometimes. The events that lead up to the fire, for example, were much too detailed. A good rule of thumb is don't mention what is not directly relevant to the story. In terms of themes and atmosphere, you will find that this still leaves many fun details you can add, but you just have to learn to pick them more carefully. I'll get into this more in my later reviews (I'm running out of characters :p).
Cheers! I'll be back :D
Oh wow. Just, wow.
First off, I'd be delighted if you reviewed every other chapter, or every third or fourth chapter like this from now on. Believe me, whatever you can handle, I'll take it.
If the AU makes it better for you, that's great. I'm actually surprised that you like my MC's character, but happily so. Maybe if/when you get to the end of this story, you can swing that canon-nazi hammer around a bit and let me in on a few of your thoughts, but for now I am content to hear how he progresses through the story I've set up as it is.
I tried really hard to SHOW the magic in this world, and I must have read those same stories too, because that's what I DIDN'T want people to think about this story. It's a bad, bad world out there, and things are messy and magical and might not make much sense, but they're real... kinda. Anyway. Thanks for appreciating my scenery. :)
I have second-guessed Dorcas' character a LOT while writing this. Her personality went through a major overhaul during revision, and I feel like I still hadn't gotten her right when I was all done. At the time, I just didn't know what else to do about her, so I left her the closest I could to what I thought I wanted. So yeah, you picked up on all of that flailing around. It's my first novel-length story, so I know I have a lot of growing room. I agree completely with that conversation not addressing the higher stakes in the room. Thanks for your specific notes on that section and the other shipping section in the next chapter too. Fortunately for you, I tend to learn as I go, so perhaps she will do less emotional flailing as we move forward? I can only hope for the best. :) I'm sure you'll tell me, which I look forward to very much.
Aaand the technical section too. I knew I might have overdone it a bit there, and probably in a few other places too. I am also looking forward to your ideas about this in the future. I guess I didn't wield the Editing Pen of Death firmly enough. That's another thing that I hope I'm getting better at *now*, but who's to say? You are, my friend. Say it all.
I am SO happy you have decided to review my story. *takes lots of notes*
Come back soon. I'll make cookies!